April 19, 2013
New York, NY- New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Charles Fisher and his son Randy Fisher, joined by August Martin High School Principal Gillian Smith, students and members of the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council (HHSYC) announced Wednesday the beginning of a new initiative aimed at closing the communication space between police and the city’s youth.
The “Rap 2 Bridge the Gap” program was the inspiration of the Fishers, well-known community activists who established the HHSYC in 2001.
“Whether it’s promoting literacy, fighting poverty, or combating violent crime, they can always be counted on to bring people together to achieve these goals, including young people and the police,” Commissioner Kelly said. “I’m confident this program will be a big success because of their dedication.”
The initiative, which began Wednesday April 13, 2013 at August Martin High School in Queens with more than 100 students and will be extended to additional schools citywide, involves groups of young people in open forums candidly asking police officers about sensitive issues ranging in topic from legal definitions to police-involved shootings, from departmental disciplinary processes to school safety, from stop-and-frisk to community policing.
“We have been working with Commissioner Kelly and his staff for months to roll out this project and we wanted to make sure that all components were in place to address issues related to Stop, Question and Frisk, as well as bridging the communication gap between students, youth, young adults and the NYPD,” said Charles Fisher, founder and chairman of the HHSYC.
“We know the project works and will be a great tool to keep crime down,” said Randy Fisher, executive director of the HHSYC.
Commissioner Kelly said the police and the community working together have already made this a far safer city. Crime is down by more than 80% from 20 years ago, following a year in which New York saw the fewest murders in 52 years. Shootings and shooting victims also are down 25% this year. And New York has the lowest ratio of teenagers carrying guns of any major city in the country, according to a recent report from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It is important that our youth know that their voice matters,” Principal Gillian Smith said. “We all carry the responsibility of making our schools and community safe. Silent voices and bystander behavior must shift.”
Commissioner Kelly added that the NYPD will also team with the HHSYC to promote existing police department programs that already service tens of thousands of young people, including the youth police academy, summer employment, the Police Athletic League (PAL), and the department’s youth soccer and cricket leagues.